when the typing stops
while just getting my office seat warmed, i pick up my ringing phone and the chicago defender says publishing giant john johnson died. i would end my shift by letting chicago's most influential black newspaper know their copy hadn't reached our systems, so if they want they could try again... but we won't need it: we beat them to their own story.

johnson was the first african-american to venture into magazine publishing. he borrowed $500 from his mother and put together the first magazine that highlighted the contributions and successes of blacks in chicago. the magazines would eventually evolve to ebony and jet. later, after successfully luring advertisers to place in black media, he built a cosmetics line and a third magazine.

it took a decade for mainstream advertisers to decide to place ads in johnson's magazines. it paved the way for other corporations to place in similar-managed media. he won people of color everywhere a huge battle in media representation.

i used to intern for a 4-color glossy magazine that featured high-end weddings. we'll call the book "flair." our offices were on grand avenue streets. below our building was a corner bakery, but i was too poor then to have lunch there. i brought baon everyday instead - my favorite being fried longganisa. *yum!* the smell would fill our tiny office and my boss, the publisher, would ask what the dish was.

"fried pork sausages. want some?" i said.

she smiled, looked down. "thank you, but i can't. i was taught to not eat pork," she said. i learned then she was jewish. ahaha! seriously. she wasn't offended, but she wants to think i've offended her. i was ms. uberreligious at that time, too - i had a photograph of jesus taken from a youth conference backdrop from that summer tacked to my bulletin board.

so. flair magazine was published by a white jewish woman and her assistant was this filipino catholic with smelly food. only the ad rep at that time was black. but audiences didn't know that. i fielded a phone call that said as much, in a gentle and questioning manner, that the magazine was bogus because it was headed by a white woman, white writers dominated its pages, and what did that have to do with being black?

it's the calm ones, i learned, that you should watch out for. the publisher told me that when she first started, she was getting married, and what better way how to learn how to plan it than to start a magazine?

the would-be wedding fell apart, obviously, because running a magazine isn't easy. it's not even funny. i would tell you more, but yanno how the net works, so imma shut up now, ahahaha. but i was still very happy with my experience - it was my first exposure to the real of publishing. i got to meet so many different people. i learned many things about publishing - of tearsheets and mailings and bridal shows and business with investors, printers, ad agencies, modelling companies, dresses, shoes, photographers, writers, graphic designers.

my publisher and i shared a tiny office, and i faced the wall. i had to turn 360 degrees to see some semblance of sky and light. so i learned about office spaces then, too. ahahaha.

i can see why johnson wanted to stick to the pretty, happy side of black america - there's the wire services and the broadsheets and the broadcasts and netcasts and the ubiquitous advertisments already. if only once a month, somebody needs to remind everyone of perspectives, choices, successes, celebrations and possibilities.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

welcome, and thank you for boarding the ulanmaya transit express. tickets, please. mind the gap as you depart. have a pleasant experience.

05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 /

gromit is curious

Powered by Blogger